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These experiments indicate the usefulness of dry concentration where sufficient water cannot be obtained, or where the necessary capital for complete separating-works is not available. But they do not prove its superiority to the modern apparatus in which water is scientifically employed-an excellent example of which is furnished by the Wilson & Cass works, in Clear Creek County. In the latter works, originally built for dressing argentiferous galena, extraordinary success has been obtained in the concentration of poor gold ores; but the location of the establishment is such as to necessitate expensive transportation of the
A serious objection to dry concentration is the requirement of drystamping, which is expensive and slow, compared with wet, or of careful drying of the crushed ore, which is also expensive. The subsequent use of the Stetefeldt furnace, recommended by Colonel Baker, is not yet a matter of practical success in treating gold ores; and the royalty charged by the patentees, as well as the great capacity of the furnace, operates somewhat against its introduction. The greatest economy would require the erection of large furnaces, and these could only be supplied with concentrated ore by purchase, there being no single company in Colorado which can keep a Stetefeldt furnace running with its own concentrated ores. In other words, the whole reduction business would pass into the hands of one or two establishments, as is now the case with first-class ores. I doubt both the practicability and the advisability of such a revolution. But the necessity of better concentration and a remodeling of the present system I do not doubt, though I believe that the method of wet-stamping and amalgamation will not be superseded. I should add that in Clear Creek County, where silver ores are treated by dry crushing and chloridizing roasting, Mr. Krom's machine has been for some time in successful operation, without competition. The Central City Register of October 19 gives the following account of recent experiments:
The Washington mill at Georgetown, one of the largest buildings in the place, has had a multiplicity of processes and managers in it at different periods, and as many failures, so that the people learned to look upon it with a superstitious dread when any activity in the way of work was started up, which occurred every year and lasted for about a month; the people would say, "There goes another bubble that will soon burst." This was the case when Krom's dry ore concentrator was put in by Mr. Jacobs in 1869. and, so far as his experiments went, it proved no less a failure than previous processes, Mr. Bement, one of the owners of the property, came to Georgetown last spring for the purpose of determining his future course for his company, in reference to their Colorado investments. He found the machinery in good condition, and determined upon a last effort to make the Krom separator work successfully on the Georgetown ores. He has devoted the entire summer to his experiments, and, with the aid of common sense and close attention to his work, has so far succeeded that the two machines are kept constantly in motion on ore from the Terrible lode, and to all appearance doing the work well. The machinery now in use consists of a Dodge crusher, with Cornish rollers, three revolving screens eight feet long, and three Krom separators, each calculated to work on different-sized particles of ore. Four men do all the work, as follows: One engineer, one in the crushing-room, one tending the concentrators, and one man of all work. The capacity of the mill is eight tons per day of ten hours. Ninety-seven tons of third-class ore have been sent from the Terrible lode to this mill, and thirtyeight tons of concentrated ore have been sent to Stewart's works since they commenced working the concentrators. This third-class ore is dressed down two-thirds, or three tons into one, at a cost of $10 per ton on the gross weight. An actual test gave the following results: Ten and a half tons of third-class Terrible Company's ore yielded 3 tons 860 pounds of concentrated ore; five tons of fourth-class ore yielded by the
same process, 1 ton and 1,216 pounds of concentrated ore. The present working of these machines is not very close. No mineral escapes with the light rock or waste, but a portion of the rock goes with the mineral. This manner of dressing the rock is a success, as will be seen by the following: Stewart charges for reducing this class of ore $35 per ton; three tons, at $35, $105. For dressing three tons into one, at $10, $30; reducing, per ton, $35; total, $65; a saving to the mine-owner on every three tons of third-class ore of $40. So far this process is a success. The fact must not be lost sight of, however, that this method of separation can only be applied to that class of ores in which the silver is carried by the heavier minerals, such as zinc and lead. When the silver exists principally as a sulphuret the process cannot be worked so closely, and happily does not need to, as this class of ore is rich enough without concentration.
SMELTING IN SHAFT FURNACES.
The process of smelting in reverberatories, as employed at Professor Hill's works, is acknowledged to be expensive in fuel and labor, but claimed to be necessitated by the nature of the ores and fluxes. Several attempts have been made to smelt in cupola-furnaces, but most of them have failed, because they required a supply of galena, which could not be obtained. It is a prevalent delusion in Colorado that immense quantities of galena ores can be had by calling for them; but the demand has been repeatedly made in vain. Even the galenas of Clear Creek County are in general so highly charged with zinc-blende, pyrites, etc., as to unfit them for the cupola.
The Western smelting-works, erecting in Black Hawk, at the time of my last visit, under the charge of Mr. William West, a practical smelter, were on a somewhat different plan. The ore was to be desulphurized without crushing, in kilns, such as are used in the manufacture of sulphuric acid from pyrites, then melted in a cupola-furnace, producing a matte, which was to be recalcined and remelted, for concentration. The final separation of the metals was to be effected at the works, sulphuric acid being obtained from chambers to be erected in connection with the kilns. The capacity of the works was intended to be ten tons daily. In this plan, the cupola-smelting is similar to that effected in the copper-furnaces of Ducktown, Tennessee; but the greater proportion of iron-sulphurets in the Central City ores, the different nature of the gangue, and the more serious expense occasioned by short campaigns and "salamanders" render the undertaking more difficult in Colorado. The furnaces were substantially built; and I have since heard of a successful commencement of operations. The experiment is, in my opinion, a hazardous one; but I do not undertake to say it will fail from causes inherent in the metallurgical plan. My latest news, December 3, speaks of the works as running at full capacity.
THE COLORADO COAL.
The most significant single specimen in the fine array of minerals at the Denver Fair was a huge block of coal, said to weigh five and a half tons, from Marshall's mine, near Golden City. Another mine (Murphy's) furnished a single lump weighing two or three tons. The Marshall vein is 14 feet thick, of which 13 feet are workable coal. The question whether this coal can be used in metallurgical operations is an important one, and the answer is, I regret to say, somewhat doubtful. analysis published of the Marshall specimen (by whom made I do not know) gives but three per cent. of ash and three per cent. of water, the rest being put down as fixed carbon and hydro-carbon. Believing the coal to be lignite, I cannot believe it to be so nearly anhydrous. All lignites contain considerable water in chemical combination; and I fear
that in this analysis the coal was merely dried, and the loss in weight set down as water, while the chemically-combined water, passing off in the subsequent distillation, was reckoned with the hydro-carbon. The error, if such it is, is a vital one. The water in lignites not only decreases the amount of actual fuel, but by evaporation absorbs heat in the furnace; and it may be consequently difficult, or even impossible, to maintain high smelting temperatures with such fuel economically.
Some experiments already made have resulted both ways; but the favorable results, so far as I can learn, were obtained on too small a scale to be perfectly satisfactory, while the unfavorable ones may possibly be due to the employment of the ordinary grates and fire-bridges used for wood, which are, of course, somewhat unsuitable. Decisive tests have yet to be made; meanwhile, I am inclined to believe that the coal can be used successfully in gas-furnaces with regenerators, and perhaps not otherwise. One thing is certain, it is excellent for all domestic purposes, and for the generation of steam; and I hope that it may soon be furnished so cheaply as to supersede wood for these applications. This should make the supply of wood and charcoal for furnaces last much longer than it will at the present rate of consumption. However, it should be added that there is no lack of wood in the Rocky Mountains. The trouble is that it speedily thins out in the neighborhood of towns and metallurgical works; and the prices of labor and hauling are such as to make it expensive when brought from a distance. I hardly think, nevertheless, that the prices of fuel will rise beyond present figures at this place for some time to come. I believe Professor Hill, at Black Hawk, pays from $5 to $7 per cord for wood, and say 13 to 15 cents per bushel for charcoal.
THE SPEED OF STAMPS IN COLORADO AND ELSEWHERE.
The question, what is the best proportion among weight, fall, and speed of stamps, is one which has not yet received thorough and systematic examination. In considering the economical application of stamping-machinery, we meet, at the beginning, with serious difficulties in obtaining accurate data for comparison. The weight and fall of stamps vary as the shoes and dies wear out; and this may lead to a change of speed also. Moreover, defects in engines, boilers, or machinery for the transmission of power, may occasion serious losses, which cannot fairly be charged to the arrangements of the stamps proper. Again, the capacity of stamp-mills is directly dependent, in some degree, upon the nature and extent of discharge, fineness of screens, and other peculiarities of the battery. Finally, the hardness and tenacity of the rock crushed varies so much that comparisons between different localities cannot be implicitly trusted. The safest experiments are those made in the same mill, by changing first one and then another condition of working; but this is seldom possible for such conditions as weight and lift of stamps, and only within narrow limits for their speed.
We may eliminate questions of friction, transmission, and generation of power, in the case of stamps, by measuring the power actually developed by their fall. Thus, the weight, multiplied into the fall in feet, and the number of drops per minute, gives us exactly the number of foot-pounds exerted by each stamp. Dividing by 33,000, the number of foot-pounds per minute in one-horse power, we have the horse-power per stamp, from which the effective power of the whole mill may be obtained. Dividing the amount of rock crushed daily by the effective horse-power, gives us the daily amount per horse-power; and this is the best measure that can be obtained for the effectiveness of the stamps. A complete discussion of the subject would require us to determine the exact influence of the discharge, etc., and the exact resistance offered by different classes of rocks, for both of which points the data are wanting. Professor J. D. Hague, in the third volume of the United States Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel, gives a valuable table of the operations of a number of mills in Gilpin County, Colorado. The discussion of this table leads to some interesting results, which I shall briefly set forth. I give a portion of it, rearranged to suit the object in view, and furnished with additional columns.